By Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario and Minister of Agriculture and Food
(TORONTO, ON) – I would like to thank the Ontario Bee Health Working Group for its report, which provides options for mitigating the potential risk to honey bees from exposure to neonicotinoid seed treatments. Members of the group include beekeepers, farmers, agri-business representatives, scientists, and officials from both the federal and provincial governments. They all share a common interest in ensuring that Ontario’s agri-food sector remains strong and continues to be a leading contributor to our province’s growth and prosperity.
I commend the group’s commitment, good faith and hard work in identifying activities that will help us protect honey bees in advance of the coming planting season. These include promoting the use of non-insecticide treated seed and encouraging the use of products and tools, such as new seed lubricant and deflectors on planters, to reduce the risk of pollinators being exposed to dust containing neonicotinoids during planting.
We continue to look to the federal government, the regulator of pesticides in Canada, to provide evidence-based direction on a national approach to neonicotinoid use. In the meantime, I believe it’s important for Ontario to show leadership to address this important issue.
That’s why we’ve committed $1.2 million toward researching factors that affect bee health, and related best management practices in field crop production. We are helping beekeepers and producers improve bee health, biosecurity and best management practices through Growing Forward 2, a federal/provincial/territorial program that supports agricultural initiatives and services. We will also work with beekeepers to look at the effectiveness of insurance options for bee deaths.
Finally, to build upon the work that has been done by this group, we are establishing a new Ontario Pollinator Health Working Group to expand our focus beyond bees and address issues and concerns regarding all pollinators in the province.
We’ll continue to work together to find solutions to this complex issue that will support a thriving, healthy bee population that will in turn support a strong, successful agri-food sector.